What's on around the UK: Animal magic for Christmas

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The Independent Travel
There is still far more to British life than carols and christmas shopping - even in mid-December. The coming week, in fact, will be curiously dominated by events involving animals, starting with pussies galore at the National Cat Show today. This, the largest cat club show in the world, is taking place at Olympia from 10.30am to 5.30pm. Tickets: pounds 5 adults; pounds 4 children and OAPs. For information tel: 0870 0106477.

Olympia then swaps cat lovers for horsey types with the International Show Jumping Championships from 16-20 December, where events range from the Shetland Pony Grand National to competitions involving top professionals. Tickets from pounds 10 ( tel: 0171-373 3113).

Further west, the horsey theme continues in Wales. At the Celt'n'Gael Centre Equestrian Christmas Gift Fair in Gwalchmai near Holyhead on 15 December you can consult the experts, then buy tack for your horse and riding wear for yourself. Admission is pounds 1.50 with free refreshments (tel: 01407 720072).

Meanwhile, if you're more interested in creatures with feathers, check out Northampton's Sywell County Park where you can try your hand at bird- box making. You get to take the box home and learn how to attract birds to your garden. Be there today, from 2pm to 4pm. Tickets: pounds 3.50 (tel: 01604 810970).

And who needs Lapland - or snow for that matter - when you can go husky racing in Suffolk? A rally in the Kings Forest near Bury St Edmunds is set for 18-19 December with up to 400 huskies racing in classes for two, three, four and six dogs at speeds of up to 28mph. Nobody cares if it doesn't snow as they simply put wheels on the sleds. For more information tel: 01842 878246.

Right. And now it's back to Christmas. In Cardiff, at Castell Coch Tongwynlais you can step back in time this weekend to a traditional Victorian Christmas complete with period costumes, glasses of mead, roast chestnuts and mince pies served in the courtyard. Father Christmas will appear on the hour and of course there's the obligatory carols. Tickets cost pounds 2.50 adults; pounds 2 children and OAPs; and pounds 7 for a family ticket (tel: 01222 810101).

Warwick Castle is also staging an old-fashioned Christmas at the castle with Victorian-style decorations in the state rooms and the Great Hall from tomorrow to next Sunday from 10am to 5pm. There is a charity carol concert on 18 December as well. Tickets can be purchased from the credit card hotline (tel: 01926 496277).

Finally, in the town centre of Beverley (the East Riding of Yorkshire) today, the Beverley Festival of Christmas kicks off with carollers, traditional market stalls and street entertainment (tel: 01964 543600), while in Haworth (West Yorkshire) the Christmas market is followed by a torchlight procession at 5.30pm (tel: 01535 642329).

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